Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health

Reviewed on , book by Jo Robinson

The point reiterated again and again in this book is that wild vegetables are more nutritious for us than common, farmed vegetables. At the end of the day, vegetables are poisonous. But small doses of poison are good for us. That’s why the outer leaves of cabbage are more nutritious: they’ve been designed to protect against sun, environment and predators. For that reason, they contain more antioxidants and various natural chemicals. Similar to the Dorito Effect, it tells the story of how humans have bred for size, profitability and consistency rather than nutrition and taste. That we don’t eat as many vegetables as we should, because they simply don’t taste as good as they could. After this preface, the book goes into all the most common vegetables and fruits. Listing the cultivars to choose that are more nutritious. How to store them. How to cook them to maximize bioavailability. It’s likely I read this book the wrong way, end-to-end on audio, rather than use it as a kitchen reference. Regardless, it’s constantly re-iterating the same point. Wild vegetables are better. Heirloom varieties are better for us. These are fine points, and the book draws something interesting causals and has great content on cooking, picking and storing foods. The biggest point I will take away is that there are very large differences between species of vegetables, and that the most deeply colourful ones often have the most flavour (and nutrition, the author would argue). At the end of the day, the book doesn’t go into depth on antioxidants or the various acids. Instead, it throws the word “cancer-prevention” around again, and again, and again. This is a big red flag for me in nutrition research. There is nothing about the dangers of overeating e.g. antioxidants. Instead, the author takes a fairly simplistic view of what “healthy food” looks like. Because of the lack of poise, this book only receives two stars despite having added perspective on how I look at foods.